We Miss Dick’s Garage

Never again! Never, ever again will I let a mechanic that I’m not related to by blood talk me in to making additional repairs when I take my car or pickup in for a simple oil change, or an AC tune-up. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now, but I continue to be pressured or persuaded into getting what are probably unnecessary repairs.

I have taken my car in for an oil change recently and had the mechanic tell me something that sounded like, “oh, you really need to get this rotator blade cap delubricated before you drive outta here. See how it’s all yellow like that? Mmm-mmm. Supposed to be bright green. Nope, if you don’t get that fixed now, I’d say you better get it taken care of in the next five days or so or your car might explode into a giant fireball and kill you.” In my head I am guessing what the worst-case price is for this repair, and it inevitably is always at least twice as expensive. “Yep, that cap runs $85.98, and with labor you’re looking at $161.39. I can get that started right now for ya.” If they just list one item that needs fixing I usually ignore, but if they give me a list of items, then I’m likely to choose one that they feel is the most critically important.

Which is just what happened this week.

Lauren is now driving to work virtually every day. First because she was taking Baxter with her after he was banished from day care, and now for the next week because of a store opening in far south Austin. That left me to take the trusty pickup. But it’s so stinking hot out now and there was no AC in the pickup, so I figured I’d better take it into my local repair shop to get it charged up. They had just done the same to the Impala last week and within an hour and $50, they had it fixed. So naturally I expected that same quick, high level of service.

On Tuesday morning I drove the pickup to the shop and left it for the day, catching a ride to the office with a co-worker. When I hadn’t heard back from them by 4:30, I grew worried. “Sorry, we were slammed today, didn’t have time to get to your truck. You can either leave it overnight or bring it back in the morning, it will be first in the queue!” they told me.

Okay, fine. I drove it home and brought it back the next morning, bright and early. The repairman was true to his word, and within the hour had the AC and wipers both fixed and ready to go. However, he came and sat next to me in the waiting area and ran down a list of observations about the pickup. There were a dozen items on his list, and he said there was a lot of work that needed to be done. I asked if any of them were truly critical, if my pickup was in danger of breaking down in the very near future if they weren’t tended to, and he said yes, something about a bad leak in the intake manifold. It sounded bad, and they had never steered me wrong before, so I said sure, go ahead and make the fix, and then had the same co-worker drive me to work. When I hadn’t heard back from them by 4:30, I grew worried. “Sorry, we were slammed today, we are just now getting to your truck, and it’s really old and rusty and these bolts will not come off. But it’s already all taken apart and the day’s almost over. Can we leave it here overnight? We promise we’ll fix it up first thing  in the morning.” I reluctantly agreed, then had to find a co-worker to drive me all the way home.

Thursday morning rolled around, and Lauren drove me to work, way out of her way. Sure enough, by 9:30 I had heard from the lead technician, and the pickup was all fixed and good to go! I happily dropped by the shop at lunch break and was shocked to see the bill was about $200 more than I expected. Well, whatever, the pickup would be in great shape now and ready to roll for the rest of the summer. I got out on the road and immediately felt sick to my stomach as I noticed the pickup was really struggling to shift gears. I could hear a grinding noise as it slowed way down as I tried to accelerate. Then I noticed the oil pressure gauge was well beyond the maximum line. And then the Service Engine Soon light came on. I was fuming.

I called Dad and got some quick advice, him being the expert mechanic, and decided to call the shop and make them aware of the problem. They asked me to make a new appointment to bring it back in, and I told them no, I needed to speak to the mechanic, because maybe for some weird reason this shifting issue was an expected result of the repair. They called back and were very courteous and even agreed to come out to Callaway and pick up the pickup and leave me with their loaner Camry.

When 4:30 rolled around and I had’t heard back from them, I grew worried. I never did hear back from them this evening. I drove the Camry home and there the pickup sits at the shop for the fourth day. Who knows how long this will go on. I may only be at the very beginning of the drama. I would assume that they are going to make these new repairs for free. And honestly, I would hope for something in addition to the repairs. I am a loyal customer and a simple AC recharge has already turned into a 4-day ordeal and counting.

It’s just comical how bad of luck I have with car repairs. Everyone has car issues and things breaking down. I have a co-worker with a brand new car already in the shop for brake repairs, and an intern who was rammed into in a parking lot. But when I go in for repairs, it’s almost never a simple in-and-out stress-free job. I almost always end up having to take it back for additional repairs, or the car ends up running worse than before, or sketchy mechanics try to fleece us, or something else.

This disaster in Chicago certainly comes to mind.

Oh, and this one in a Cub Foods parking lot.

Ha, and who could forget the Texas state inspection.

And new parts gone bad very quickly.

Or this time.

Or this time, with the brand new car.

Okay, those were the first ones I could find after some quick research. You get the idea.

All I want is for tomorrow morning, first thing, a call from the shop telling me the pickup is finished and working, to come and pick it up, there are no additional charges, and an apology.

2 comments

  1. It had better be a free repair, or else make them aware that you have a national blog that will spread the word about their bad service. It’s pretty nice having a mechanic right in the same yard as me (actually, I sleep with my mechanic, too).

  2. There are three main criteria used in pricing any given auto repair. The first is the labor rate, or what the shop charges for the time and expertise that goes into repairing your vehicle. The second is for the parts themselves, and whatever other shop support materials are used in the process of the repair. The third area to consider are the fixed costs or overhead that the repair shop has to cover, but that doesn’t get reflected on your bill..

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